Survey on an Increase in Council Tax to Help Protect Operational Policing
The following message is from the Police and Crime Commissioner, Anthony Stansfeld:
On Tuesday 19th December the Home Secretary announced a substantial £450 million increase in police funding across England and Wales. However, this funding package assumes that all Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will raise the police element of council tax by £1 a month (or £12 a year) for a band D property which, collectively, will raise £270 million of the £450 million increase. This will allow forces to continue to provide an effective service in their critical work to fight crime and protect the public.
At present around 60% of Thames Valley Police’s £393 million annual policing budget is funded by central government, with the policing element of your council tax making up the remainder. Since 2010/11 the police grant has been cut by around 38% in real terms which has resulted in Thames Valley Police (TVP) having to make £99 million of savings in order to balance the budget. These cuts have already led to a manpower reduction of over 1,000 full time equivalent posts, including more than 450 police officers.
Setting the budget for 2018/19 needs to be considered in the context of an already constrained financial position as well as the additional pressures policing faces as demand in some of the most complex and challenging areas continues to increase. This includes rising reports and cases of hidden crimes such as domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual offences, serious violence and exploitation have all increased the pressure on police resources.
Needless to say this is proving to be extremely challenging and without the increase of £12 per year in council tax, as recommended by the Home Secretary, we would have to make further significant reductions in police officers and staff which will affect the level and quality of policing service we are able to offer you.
In November 2017 TVP was judged by the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to be ‘outstanding’ in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. This includes an ‘outstanding’ for its understanding of demand and its use of resources to manage demand, and its planning for future demand was judged to be ‘good’. Thames Valley Police was one of only two forces nationally to have been awarded an overall rating of outstanding.
Ideally I would not choose to consult over the busy Christmas and New Year period and particularly on such an important issue, however, the Chief Constable and I only received the provisional police grant settlement for 2018/19 from the Home Office on Tuesday 19th December. Unfortunately due to budget decisions needing to be finalised by the end of January I am only able to run the consultation until midday on Thursday 11th January. I apologise for the timing and length of the consultation period but I hope you will take the time to complete the survey which will help the Chief Constable and I to make an informed decision on the budget for 2018/19.
Today I have launched a short online survey to seek your views on this increase, which can be found on the below link and I would encourage you to complete it and share widely:
Those residents who do not have access to the internet can write to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Thames Valley Police Headquarters, Oxford Road, Kidlington, Oxon, OX5 2NX with your answers to the below questions.
Do you think an extra £12 per year in council tax, for a Band D property, to help protect operational policing in Thames Valley would be money well spent?
Yes / No
If you have answered No to question 1 will you please explain why and propose an alternative annual increase that you believe is justified and will enable the Force to do their job effectively?
Please note that all responses needs to be received by midday on Thursday 11th January 2018.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley
Fake Government Grants Fraud Alert
Thames Valley Police have issued a warning about fraudsters attempting to represent themselves as agencies whose purpose is to assist individuals and businesses to apply for government grants. The text of the warning follows:
Individuals and businesses are being warned to watch out for cold calls and online contact from fraudsters who are offering victims the opportunity to apply for Government grants for an advance fee.
To make the grants look legitimate fraudsters have set up bogus companies and convincing looking websites that claim to be operating on behalf of the UK Government.
Fraudsters cold call businesses and individuals offering the grant and if they’re interested direct them to fill out an online application form with their personal information.
Once the fraudsters have that information they’ll contact back victims and congratulate them on being accepted onto the grant programme.
Pre-paid credit cards
Applicants are then asked to provide identification and are instructed to get a pre-paid credit card to deposit their own contribution to the fake Government grant scheme. Fraudsters will then contact victims on the phone or are emailed and asked for the details of their pre-paid credit card and copies of statements to in order for them to add the grant funds.
Of course the grant funds are never given by the fraudsters and the money that’s been loaded by the victim onto the card is stolen.
If you receive one of these calls, hang up immediately and report it to us. We’ve already taken down one website fraudsters have been using to commit this fraud and are working with Companies House to combat this issue.
How to protect yourself:
Be wary of unsolicited callers implying that you can apply for grants. You should never have to pay to receive a government grant, and they definitely won’t instruct you to obtain a pre-paid credit card. The government should have all the information they need if a genuine grant application was submitted, therefore any requests for personal or banking information either over the phone or online should be refused.
What to do if you’re a victim:
- If you think your bank or personal details have been compromised or if you believe you have been defrauded contact your bank immediately.
- Stop all communication with the ‘agency’ but make a note of their details and report it to Action Fraud.
- If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
The information contained within this alert is based on information from gathered by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). The purpose of this alert is to increase awareness of this type of fraud. The alert is aimed at members of the public, local police forces, businesses and governmental agencies.
Housebreaking at Woodhurst Lane
Thames Valley Police have advised us that on 29th November a house on Woodhurst Lane was broken into. A door at the rear was forced open and a window was damaged. The house was searched, but fortunately nothing was stolen. The police have said that you, as a resident, can help them by ringing them on 101 you see or hear anything suspicious, or by ringing 999 if you see something untoward happening to somebody else’s house and you think an intruder might still be present.
Police Advice for Safe Online Shopping
Thames Valley Police have issued the following guidelines to assist consumers in staying safe while shopping online.
Check the web address
Always check you’re on the correct website. Criminals can set up fake websites that have a similar design and web address to the genuine site.
Is it a secure connection?
Web pages you enter personal or financial details into should display a locked padlock sign and have a web address that starts with https. This means your connection to the website is secure.
Don’t click on links or attachments within unsolicited emails. The number of online shopping related phishing emails increases significantly during the holiday period.
65% of Action Fraud reports during the 2016 Christmas period were linked to online auction sites. Don’t pay for goods or services by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person. Payments via bank transfer offer you no protection if you become a victim of fraud.
Crimestoppers Trust is an independent crime-fighting charitable organization in the United Kingdom.
It can be a big decision to give information about crime, Crimestoppers guarantee your anonymity.
Crimestoppers operates the 0800 555 111 telephone number, allowing people to call anonymously to pass on information about crime. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.
To give information:
By phone: 0800 555 111
Do You Have CCTV at Home?
If so, the police would like to hear from you.
The use of CCTV in private residential properties has seen a significant increase in recent years and cameras in and around the home have become a common sight.
Sometimes images captured on your CCTV are helpful to crime investigations. For example, if there has been a burglary in a road the police would like to contact anyone with a CCTV within the vicinity and ask if they have any images. This can help to catch the offenders and make the community safer. If you do have CCTV the police would like you to register this with Thames Alert so they can contact you if required.
Tips from the Police on Protecting Your Home
You can greatly reduce your risk of burglary by taking a few simple security measures to help make your property less attractive to thieves. Most burglars are opportunists and target homes and businesses that offer the least risk of being caught.
Keep your home safe and secure
- keep front and back doors locked, even when you’re at home
- install a burglar alarm with a visible alarm box
- fit a door chain and spyhole for extra security
- keep all valuables and keys out of sight and out of reach of doors and windows
- store high value items in a hidden safe
- mark your belongings and register them for free with Immobilise
- fit energy efficient security lighting
- don’t leave spare keys in obvious places such as under doormats or plant pots
- keep items that could be used to break into your property such as ladders, tools and wheelie bins stored safely away
- lock side gates to prevent easy access to the rear of the property
- check fencing regularly to keep it in good repair
- use pea shingle on driveways or under windows, as it crunches loudly when stepped on
- trim overgrown hedges and plants to remove hiding places and improve surveillance
- use a timer switch to make your house look occupied, even when it isn’t
- consider joining or forming a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
Going on holiday. Whether you’re going away for a day or a few weeks, you should take steps to make your home look occupied. A dark home in the evenings and uncollected mail is a sign to burglars that no one is home. Before you go on holiday:
- cancel milk and newspaper deliveries
- set up automatic timer switches to turn your lights on when it gets dark
- register for the Royal Mail’s ‘keepsafe’ service
- move valuable items out of view of windows
- cut front and back lawns and trim back plants
- don’t discuss holiday plans on social media
- ask a trusted neighbour to watch over your home whilst you’re away
A Message from Thames Valley Police
A Warning to Owners of Specialist Motorcycles
Do you have a quad bike, trial bike or motocross bike, or know someone who does? Across the area we have seen an increase in theft of these types of bikes. They have been stolen when left parked on the road, driveways or targeted burglaries to sheds, garages or lock up containers. We would advise the following:
- Be vigilant when attending events and travelling home. There’s no need to be paranoid but vigilance matters. Locking up your bike every single time is a pain, but really what’s a minute? When not riding, always keep an eye on your bike. If someone looks suspicious or just lurking around ring the police on 101.
- Never let your bike out of sight. This rule of course applies to when your bike is not locked. That means when loading it on the truck or trailer don’t lose sight of it unless it’s locked. When cleaning it or taking care of maintenance in the garage, don’t run inside to answer the phone or get a snack unless the garage door is closed. Thieves are meticulous and patient. If they want your bike they’ll wait you out. Don’t give them the chance.
- Lock it up – Lock your bike up on the trailer, in the back of the truck, even in your garage. Wherever your bike is stationary for a long period of time without you sitting on it or having eyes on it, lock it up. Don’t get chintzy locks either. Get big, beefy cable locks.
Here’s the reality – if a thief wants your bike no amount of security works,with time and the right tools, any lock can be overcome. However, you can reduce the time factor and offer enough of a deterrent to make the thief to move on.
Posted 15th June 2017.
We have received the following message from Thames Valley Police:
Police are warning residents of a scam whereby a person makes contact, possibly over the phone, advising the victim that they have been overpaid an amount of money into their account and are asked to organise a payment by way of a MoneyGram at the local post office to send the overpayment back. Never pay money to an unknown source. Always check with your Bank/Building Society/Post Office before moving any funds.
If you receive any calls of this nature and feel concerned, phone the police.
Posted 11th June 2017.
Emergency Contact Numbers
The police have given us the following advice about when to use the emergency contact numbers 101 and 999, as follows:
When to ring 101:
- If you have any information which could assist the police with their investigation.
- If you wish to contact a specific police officer or member of staff.
- Report a crime not currently in progress (stolen car, burglary or damaged property).
- Give information to the police about crime in your area.
When to ring 999:
- A crime is happening now.
- Someone is in immediate danger or there is a risk of serious damage to property.
- There is a traffic collision involving injury or danger to other road users.
The following text relating to Neighbourhood Policing is copied directly from the relevant page of the Thames Valley Police website. In the future we hope to be able to bring you news from the police relating to crime statistics and other police-related matters affecting our area.
About Neighbourhood Policing
Every neighbourhood in Thames Valley has a dedicated Neighbourhood Policing team.
Neighbourhood Policing teams can be contacted via 101, the Thames Valley Police non-emergency number. Always call 999 in an emergency.
Neighbourhood Policing teams…
- Are led by senior police officers and include police community support officers (PCSOs), often together with volunteer police officers, volunteers and partners.
- May serve one or several neighbourhoods.
- Work with local people and partners to identify, tackle and prevent local, low-level crime, anti-social behaviour, and any ongoing concerns.
- Provide you with a visible, accessible and accountable police service and aim to make your neighbourhood safer.
- Have been present in every Thames Valley neighbourhood since 1 April 2008.
- Focus all of their efforts on their dedicated neighbourhoods, building relationships with local people.
- Needs you to tell us about the issues that concern you in your area.
- Has transformed policing at a local level, to meet the needs of local communities.
From the start of 2010, Thames Valley Police extended its neighbourhood consultation by introducing a wider range of publicised opportunities to meet neighbourhood teams.
We will provide open monthly meetings to allow the public to influence our priorities. These meetings will be branded as Have Your Say opportunities, and in many cases will be held in conjunction with partners.
Once local priorities have been identified, a broader ‘toolkit’ of problem-solving tactics is being made available to ensure crime and anti-social behaviour is tackled effectively.
Across the Thames Valley area, there are many successful Neighbourhood Action Groups which will continue to deliver local problem solving, but the introduction of Have Your Say meetings will allow neighbourhood teams to identify more quickly those specific local priorities that need attention.
Thames Valley Police views the introduction of Have Your Say meetings as a positive step in tackling issues that matter most to the public. I welcome your support and engagement in this endeavour.